Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Two MDC-T activists have approached the Constitutional Court challenging President Mugabe’s powers to select and declare heroes and the involvement of the Zanu-PF Politburo in the process. A lawyer and MDC-T member Mr Tinomudaishe Chinyoka and MDC-T legislator for Zengeza East Mr Alex Musundire filed an application to have Section 3 of the National Heroes Act declared unconstitutional.
Section 3 of the Act gives the President wide discretion on who should be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre. The two want an order barring President Mugabe and Zanu-PF from declaring any other person as heroes pending amendment of the Act in line with the supreme law of the country.
It is the duo’s argument that the Zanu-PF Politburo should not be involved in the selection process and its involvement makes the whole process partisan and unconstitutional. They want the court to declare all declarations of hero status made by President Mugabe with the participation of Zanu-PF to be declared null and void.
President Mugabe and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Prisca Mupfumira were listed as respondents in their official capacities. Zanu-PF was cited as third respondent in the constitutional challenge filed on Friday.
Minister Mupfumira administers the National Heroes Act. Mr Chinyoka, in his founding affidavit, argued that the discretion given to President Mugabe in terms of Section 3 of the Act was too wide and in violation of the right to administrative justice.
“It is my humble belief that the powers given to first respondent (President Mugabe) under Section 3 of the Act are incompatible with the right to administrative justice or are otherwise in violation of the Constitution because of their arbitrary nature,” he said.
“The discretion given to first respondent is so wide that it cannot be shown that it is primed to yield results that are always lawful, efficient, prompt, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.”
Mr Chinyoka said the only six women buried at the national shrine were wives of Zanu-PF officials and liberation fighters, except for Cde Sabina Mugabe, a sister to President Mugabe.
Mr Chinyoka said some deserving people were never accorded hero status among them philanthropist Jairos Jiri and Sir Garfield Todd who opened the door for black people’s ownership of houses in townships, and founded Dadaya Mission in Zvishavane.
He also cited people like the late Ndabaningi Sithole and Susan Tsvangirai as deserving heroes, going by President Mugabe’s criteria of selecting heroes. The two also questioned the involvement of the Zanu-PF Politburo in the selection of heroes, saying it amounted to partisanship and an indirect way of compelling everyone to join Zanu-PF to be considered for hero status.
President Mugabe, Minister Mupfumira and Zanu-PF are yet to file their responses to the application.